Friday, October 20, 2006

I Love to See My Name in Print

The NFL has some complicated rules for broadcasting home games to the local crowd. Indeed, they have predictable, but not always obvious rules every week.

The games that occur on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday night and Monday are considered national games and never have other games on at the same time, so as long as the game is not blacked out locally, everyone receives the game.

On Sunday afternoons, there are as few as 11 games or as many as 14 games being broadcast. Fox carries the games where the visiting team is from the NFC while CBS carries those where the visitors are from the AFC. On each Sunday, one of those networks has the doubleheader game of the week. Typically, both show a game in the early slot (1PM Eastern) while only one shows a late game. If the city has a local team playing at home, each network gets only one game (with the exceptions explained below).

Next is the blackout rule which requires that normal seating (not including loge or box seating) be sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff to lift a blackout of any station broadcasting within 50 miles of the stadium. At their discretion, of course, the NFL has the right to lift a blackout anyway. If the blackout is lifted, either due to sellout or by gift from the home office, it is added as a third game being broadcast. That said, the other network is not allowed to show a game in the local area while the home team's game is being broadcast.

Since those rules were implemented, and prior to this year, there were 13 weekends where every game was broadcast in their local markets. In 2002 and 2005, it happened four times each year. This year, the NFL is 7 of 7. That's right, every game has been sold out every week. Remember, of course, that the Cardinals alone were responsible for eight weeks per year of avoiding that record, but there were also at least five other weeks each year that we weren't the cause.

Noting this anomoly, Tim Lemke of the Washington Post wrote an article giving particular focus to the Phoenix market. Finding himself at this blog, he very kindly asked a few questions about the team and the impact of local broadcasts. As you've already noted from the title, he quoted me a couple of times in the article which you can find here. Enjoy the read!

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